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2 
PHONOLOGY 



There are three classes of significant phonological elements in 
Comanche — consonants, vowels and final features. 1 Among the con- 
sonants, each oral stop (and the affricate) has, underlyingly, the 
shape of a single stop. Final features affect these stops in such a 
way that, depending on the stop, the result is a two-, three-, or four- 
way surface contrast. The nasals are affected by final features in a 
somewhat different way. 

Vowels occur in three surface forms: short, long, and voiceless. 
Voiceless vowels arise from short, unstressed vowels. The most 
common position for stress is the first syllable of the word. Excep- 
tions to this pattern are marked with an acute accent over the 
stressed vowel. 

The structure of the typical morpheme is CVCV, but there are 
exceptions. 

2.1. Phonemes 

The phonological elements are presented in table 2.1. Table 2.2 
presents the transcription I use for the allophones of many of the 
consonants and vowels. 

2.1.1. Final features 

Final features is the term used by students of the Numic lan- 
guages to designate a form of morphologically conditioned conso- 
nant gradation found in those languages. The term describes a phe- 
nomenon whereby the shape of a consonant (such as lenis, fortis, 
prenasalized, and so forth) is determined by a feature posited to ter- 
minate the stem or affix that immediately precedes the consonant 
intervocalically, and between words in rapid speech (i.e., when not 
interrupted by a pause). The term is rather misleading, because 
consonants within morphemes are similarly affected, and because in 
some cases the initial consonant of a stem or affix may have an in- 
variant shape. When the initial consonant has an invariant shape, 
it is said to "begin" with a final feature. Precisely which consonants 



COMANCHE GRAMMAR 



Table 2.1. Phonological Elements 



STOPS 
NASALS 
FRICATIVES 
GLIDES 



Consonants 
bilabial dental palatal velar labiovelar glottal 

p t, ts k kw 9 







Vowels 






FRONT 


CENTRAL 


BACK 


HIGH 


i 


i 


u 


MID 


e 







LOW 




a 





Other 

LENGTH (Vowel length is indicated by doubled vowels.) 

FINAL FEATURES lenis fortis preaspirated aspirated 

(no mark) - = -H -h 

STRESS (Stress is marked ' when noninitial.) 



Table 2.2. Phonetic Forms of Some Phonological Elements 



BILABIAL 


DENTAL VELAR 


LABIOVELAR 


PALATAL 


P 


t, ts k 


kw 




V 


r 






♦ 


R 






hp 


ht,hts hk 


hkw 




hv 


hr 






m 


n 






mm 


nn 






w 






y 


hw 






Y 


gw 






dy 


Voiceless vowels 


: E,I,f,0,U 







Charney, Jean Ormsbee. 1993. A Grammar of Comanche. 
London/Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.